Collector to Board Letters Book 1814 - 1815


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/26, words are shown in italics in case of doubt. Items in blue are additional or background information. I do not accept any responsibility for any inaccuracies.


20 September 1814       We report that on a Survey made by Ourselves and Waterside Officers of the three Blue Houses on the Wharfs in Cowes they appeared to be so impaired and defective by age having been built upwards of 25 years that we were about to crave your Honors three new ones but the Carpenter stating that they may be made serviceable for a considerable time by giving them some indispensable repairs and putting new wheels and sole trees, the Blue Houses being moved at times from one wharf to another. We thought it our duty to put them is such a state of repair as would admit the Officers Occupancy and save the expense of new ones not less that £70 to the Crown which is respectfully submitted.


21 September 1814       At the request of Mr Thomas Francis, Tide Surveyor, and Superintendent of Quarantine at this Port, we transmit the inclosed Petition humbly entreating your Honors to make him the same allowance in this case for performing the Duties of a Quarantine Officer. Mr Francis as Tide Surveyor has £120 per annum and only 2s 6d per diem for superintending a Transient Ship that he may happen to report into Cowes Road disabled or for Orders, and has no allowance whatever for the trouble of putting the Preliminary Quarantine Questions to every Ship on her arrival from Foreign Parts, a Duty particularly enjoined by your Honors and essential for the preservation of this country against contagion.


21 September 1814       In obedience to your Minute of 21st June last on the within papers regarding the Health of Mr Richard Chiverton the Coast waiter at Ryde.

We transmit inclosed a Medical Certificate of his present condition and sanity.

Copy of Medical Certificate, Ryde Sept. 19th 1814

Mrs Chiverton of this place, having applied to me this morning for a Certificate of the state of her Husband’s Health, I have just visited him and found him evidently convalescent and apparently well also very anxious to return to his Duty, but as he is liable to be affected by the heat of the weather, I do not deem it safe for him to resume the fatigues of his situation until his recovery is more completely established, as he will certainly incur the possibility of a relapse by doing so prematurely.

J B Clarke, MD


22 September 1814       Mr David Williams, Mate in Command of the Wolf Cutter having on the 12th Instant seized the Boat Plough of Hastings with 67 small casks of Foreign Spirits and other Goods, and on board which were:

Robert Williams

Richard Elsburg

John Dodman

William Taylor

All of whom being found sufficient to serve His Majesty by the Officer Commanding on board the Prince Man of War at Spithead.

We transmit inclosed a Certificate thereof also Captain Williams application praying the usual Reward for this Service, as defined by the 3rd Sect. of the 49th Geo. 3rd Chap 62 amounting to £80.


27 September 1814       Having considered the subject of Barracks in your Order of the 16th Inst., we are fully of the opinion the Barrack and Guard Houses, listed on the back hereof, on the Isle of Wight might be made use of in the suppression of Smugling if the Military would co-operate with this Revenue. They are:

Barracks on the Isle of Wight:







Also Guard Houses on the Isle of Wight:

Luccombe Chine

Freshwater Gate and one near

Sconce Point

These being in situations to command the movements of Smuglers.


30 September 1814       Smuggling since the Epoch of Peace having increased in this vicinity and there being reason to believe that the facility of intercourse with France from the Isle of Wight favoured by the Dark Nights of the Winter Season will stimulate the Attempts on Contraband Traders to ignore the Revenue. We feel urged by a Sense of Duty to recommend to your Honors the Appointment of a Preventive Boat with a Sitter and six men at St Hellens for the purpose of Guarding the Eastern Extremities of the Isle of Wight which, during the War and at present is left to the Local watch in some measure of George Granger and Joseph Jolliffe, two Boatmen stationed at Bembridge.

The spot we would beg to point out for the Boats Rendezvous would be St Helens Harbour an inlet of the sea much resorted to by Pilot Boats, and small crafts, and that the Crew should have for their accommodation and old Ship fitted up with Berths, and to be moored afloat.

The Duty of the proposed boat would be to rummage all Vessels entering the Harbour, to watch the motions of the East Indiamen and other Ships in St Helen’s Road and to secure and protect a line of Coast from the Harbour East and South to Niton and to Wootton Bridge North, including Ryde and the Motherbank.

As in the occasional absence of the boat, it would be proper some Officers should be stationary near St Helen’s Harbour, we would suggest George Granger should remain at his present Station, Bembridge, which forms one boundary of St Helen’s Harbour to prevent attempts to run Goods, and to transact the Coast Duty, for which he now has a Special Allowance on Incidents, and that Joseph Jolliffe the other Day Boatman should remove to Cowes where Commissioned Officers are often in request to be boarded on Ships from Foreign Parts.

The Inspecting Commander of the District, Captain Blake, possessing due knowledge of the Localities, we have been representing will be able to afford your Honors such further Information on the subject now submitted, as you may deem it right to call him for.


30 September 1814       The Plough Sloop and her Cargo consisting of 240 Barrels Red Herrings and 14 cwt. were received at this Port to be prosecuted in the Court of the Exchequer the 14th of April 1814 pursuant to your Honors Order to Captain Pierce. The seizure having remained here sometime without any information made to us thereon, on the 12th May we deemed it right to inspect the condition of the Herrings and finding many barrels in a musty and perishable state we advertised the whole for sale on 17th May by virtue of the Standing Order of 23rd December 1801 for Perishable Goods, but were obliged the put the same off in consequence of your Honors Order of 15th same month.

On the 28th May your Order conveying one from the Treasury dated 25 May for the restoration of the Plough and Cargo was sent here and immediately imparted to Messrs Breeks and Bunfield in a letter from the Collector.

The 15th June following the owner appeared at this Office & received the Plough and her Cargo first paying the Tonnage Duty to Guernsey which had been omitted to be taken at Rye but nothing more. Captain Pearce, the Seizing Officer, having declined to accept any satisfaction.


5 October 1814                         Mr Comben, Mate of the late Swan Cutter captured by the French in 1807, being now returned from France, we request your Honors to instruct us if the Salary of £60 per annum which he relinquished to his Daughters during his captivity and which was paid them pursuant to your Order of 26th November 1811 is now to be paid to him.


6 October 1814             William Rubie, Riding Officer and Robert Willis, Boatman stationed at Yarmouth within the limits of this Port to be furnished with Writs of Assistance as we think they would use them with discretion.


18 October 1814            Since reporting to your Honors on the 30th Ult., the increase in Smugling in this District, and recommending the Establishment of a Preventive Boat at St Helens - a French Lugger from St Valery laden with 132 Casks of Spirits of Brandy has been seized by the Excise within the Wight and several Casks on shore nearby.

As it is probable the Smuglers will be active and attempt to run Goods the approaching Winter Nights, we beg to urge the speedy Establishment of the proposed boat, and if your Honors approve, that the Hull of the Sap Lugger, which is unfit for a Cruizer at Sea, and would not sell for £50 at a Public Auction may be appropriated for the accommodation of the Sitter and her Crew and be moored within St Helens Harbour.


19 October 1814            The Nimble Cutter Tender to the Swallow arrived at this Port yesterday to be refitted.


24 October 1814            The conduct of the Columbine Transport lately employed by Government on lucrative terms has been so systematically fraudulent for a length of time as will appear by the Affidavit of the Informant that we felonized the owner, whose loss had he gone to condemnation could not have been less than £3530 should hesitate to extricate himself for the moderate sum of £300 not a 10th proportion of the value at stake.

That Mr Johnson was not privy to the Smugling Transactions or to the destination of the Claret and four Quarter Casks of French Wine in the hold of the Columbine in Cowes Road, after we had made seizure thereof, we readily admit, but we must contend that the owner of the Columbine to have selected a Master of known integrity and for whose conduct in the Eye of the Law he becomes responsible.

In considering the subject of individuals subject to prosecution for a Breach of the Revenue Laws or whose property must be forfeited for an offence against them, we persuade ourselves – your Honors will not overlook the claims of our Officers when they performed as we trust on a just and upright proceeding for the benefit of the Revenue – The remuneration of £300 to us as Seizing Officers and several other Officers concerned one third of which is due in the first instance to the Informant, will not, we assure ourselves under every circumstance (especially so as the Demand is not one third of the value of the property forfeited) be considered exorbitant or more than is proper to excite a stimulus to Informants to divulge illicit practices or to satisfy Officers or to satisfy Officers when deprived of considerable prospective advantages under your Honors clemency to others. 


13 November 1814 Hurst Castle suggested as preferable site for Boat rather than those previously suggested. [Not transcribed.]


21 November 1814        Mrs Chiverton acknowledges the Justice of Mr Finch’s claim for Board & Medical attendance given to her Husband during his confinement in the Asylum and willingly acquiesces in Mr Finch’s proposal to leave in the Collector’s Hands £5 Quarterly till the debt viz. £34 which we doubt not your Honors will approve.


7 December 1814          In obedience to your Order of the 5th Instant calling on us to point out such defects as we have discovered in the Laws now in force for the collection of the Revenue pursuant to the Standing Order of the 17th November 1790, we hereby submit:

1st That as the Illicit Trade is increased since the Peace and a great proportion is carried on by Foreigners in Foreign Vessels – That a Law should be obtained subjecting Foreigners to detention and capture when found on board Foreign or British Vessels laden with Contraband Articles within the limits of a Port or within 2 Leagues of the Coast or Shore on England.

2nd That a law should be obtained subjecting all Vessels and Boats whether British or Foreign, running, unshipping or facilitating running of Silks, Gloves, or other Prohibited dry Articles to Seizure and Forfeiture and Persons found acting thereon to detention and capture.

3rd That a law should be obtained compelling the owners of every single Ship or Vessel (not bona fide Square Rigged Merchant Traders) of the Tonnages of 150 Tons and under, and also open Boats of 14 Feet Long and upwards of whatever Rigg, Construction or Build to give Security in double the value of the Ship, Vessel or Boat, not to Smuggle.

We urge particularly this last Regulation – As the most Notorious Smugglers Elevate the Bowsprits of the Vessels in preference to asking for a License, which would be subject to a Penalty.


8 December 1814          The Allegation set forth by the Inhabitants of Ryde in the within Memorial presented by Captain Usher being undesirable.

The Relief prayed for, we submit, may be met by the appointment of a Special Coast Officer at Ryde or by allowing the Collector who has General Charge & Management of the Coast Business within the Port to Employ a Local Person as Clerk on an Annual Incidental Allowance for the purpose of Writing and Issuing Documents to the Coast Waiter, Chiverton, and Clearing Vessels with Goods Coastwise.

The said Local Clerk to be responsible to us for recording the Quantities of Goods shipped and brought Coastwise and for furnishing copies of all Accounts when called on, as well as for the upright and due Execution of his Office.

Ryde being a Creek of Cowes and the distance Nine Miles, we submit that no Duties of whatever kind either on Goods Exported or Imported or Coastwise shall be collected at Ryde, but that the Duty Entries shall be passed at Cowes and that Warrants for the Delivery of Goods Issued at Cowes in the usual manner.

Ryde is increasing daily in Buildings, Population and Trade, and Influx of Passengers so great at Times that our Coast Waiter, the only Established Officer resident there of the Department, is inadequate often to Inspect the Packages.

Your Honors will therefore naturally see that we have hitherto been very tender in conveying an augmentation of Expenses – but which we should be culpable in refraining from on the Appeal from the Inhabitants of Ryde.


14 December 1814        In obedience to your Honors Order of the 13th Inst., we transmit inclosed a Certificate of the Baptism of John Linnington, nominated to be a Coal Meter in the room of Thomas Holbrook Deceased by which he appears to be 27 Years of Age and we report that he is sufficiently active and capable of performing the Duties of said Office, his Employment for some years has been that of a Salt Maker, and is not known to have been a Smugler or been suspected of being concerned therein or to have obstructed any Officer in his Duty.


19 December 1814        Offer made to the Board of Customs to buy the Watch House for £900. [Not transcribed.]


9 January 1815              The late Tempestuous Weather having caused the discharge of several cargoes at this Port from Ships in Distress – The Warehouses in which the goods are Deposited have required more Kings Locks than we are in possession of. We therefore humbly pray your Honors would be pleased to direct that Eighteen Patent Padlocks may be sent us with little delay as possible, which with the Dozen in use will make our stock Thirty in number. Inclosed is the waterside Officers representation of the Deficiency.          


11 January 1815            Inclosed we transmit an account of Seizures brought to the Warehouse since our last return of the 3rd November 1814 and we pray your Honors to direct their prosecution in the Exchequer.

It appearing from the report of the Seizing Officer of Seizure No. 7 that it was impossible for such a number of Casks to be buried in the garden near the Dwelling House without the knowledge of William Bremer in possession during the proprietors absence. We submit if a prosecution should not be entered against him – as a party concerned in the Smuggling Transaction.

The People captured in the Sloop Industrious – Seizures Nos. 1 and 2 Lady Day 1815 by Mr James Major Sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 19 at Atherfield have been sent on board the Prince Man of War as fit & able Seamen.


17 January 1815            On your Order of the 14th Inst. respecting the removal as a temporary measure or Mr James Snudden the Coast Waiter at Newport to Shanklin to act as in that District as an Riding Officer of the Second Class and desiring to know in what Manner the Coast Waiters Duty can be performed at Newport.

We submit that in event of Snuddens removal that James Sammes one of the most competent Tide Waiters who has been acting as Coast Waiter at Ryde these last 18 Months on account of Mr Chivertons Insanity and who is still acting there may be removed to Newport to carry on the Coast Duty and that Mr Robert Miller a Commissioned Coal Meter & Glutman who writes a good hand may be directed to act at Ryde til your Honors think it right to re-instate Chiverton.


25 January 1815            We transmit inclosed an application from the wife of Richard Chiverton the Established Coast Waiter at Ryde praying to be paid her Husbands Salary for the Christmas Quarter as he is not returned to Duty on account of his Indisposition continuing. Your Honors from the Commencement of Chivertons Infirmity granted this Indulgence, the Payment is again humbly submitted.


1 February 1815            In reference to our Report of the 8th December last on the Application of the Inhabitants of Ryde to the Lords of the Treasury for a resident Officer at that Creek to grant Coast Documents for Landing and Shipping Goods without being subject to the inconvenience of sending to Cowes, a distance of 9 Miles for such dispatches.

We consider it our Duty to appraise your Honors that we have been informed the Government have determined on expediting the East India Company Ships instead of sending them to the Motherbank. A circumstance coupled with the removal of the Military Depot Establishment from the Isle of Wight to Chatham – That cannot fail to diminish greatly the trade at Ryde and under our opinion, the appointment of a new Coast Officer as proposed by the Petitioners is unnecessary, at least for the present.


20 February 1815

Places where Smuggling is carried out

In what articles

In what mode




Mill Bay


Freshwater Gate

At the Back of the Wight

St Hellens



Wootton Creek

Gurnard Bay


Alum Bay

Within the Isle of Wight

Spirits, Silks and Lace

The Spirit in small craft taken on board at Cherbourgh, St Vallery, Fecamp, Dieppe ports of France and conveyed by them to some or one of the places mentioned in the opposite column where if a favourable opportunity does not offer for immediate landing of the spirits, they are sunk by means of warps and anchors til a better occasion favours the clandestine landing of them.

The Silk and Lace in small packages, sometimes in tin, in English and French Vessels by people pretending to be Passengers but who 9 times out of 10 are in reality professional smugglers and who in disguise go the voyage to France for the purpose of purchasing these articles and running them secretly on Shore at some Accessible and Unguarded part of the Island.


The check and prevention of smuggling of Spirits, Silks and Lace at the places described it is submitted may be found in the following Establishment of Guard and Officers Viz:

1. A Permanent Riding Officer of Second Class under the new Land Guard system at Shanklin by new appointment, there being no Officer at that Spot.

2. Another at Niton, vice Samuel Alder, deceased who was appointed to that Station from the reduced list by your Honors order 17 October 1811.

3.A small Class Cutter the size of an Inspecting Tender to be kept actively cruizing at the Back of the Isle of Wight for the express object of guarding the Accessible parts accessed by Smugglers and as described in the first column, which Cutters Station should be defined to be the Owers eastward to Christchurch Head westwards and intermediate places within and on no pretence to be excluded.


22 February 1815           Prize Money amounting to £43 – 15 – 1 has been withheld from the Mariners of the late Swan by Mr Comben on account of their quitting the Cutter of their own accord prior to her capture. The Parties now apply for their respective shares, but Mr Comben protests against the payment of any part of the Money without your Honors sanction.

Subjoined is a copy of your Order on the Investigation of the Swans Loss, and we request your Honors Directions for the appropriation of the £43 – 15 – 1 Prize Money in question.


22 February 1815           We have called on Mr Auldjo, the shipper of the Tobacco in question for payment of duties on the Deficient Weight – and in answer he has shown us a letter from Mr William Davidson, Merchant, South Street, Finsbury Square, London, the real owner of the 42 Hogsheads of Tobacco and who gave Bond in London to pay the Proper Duties – which states he is at this time adjusting an Entry with the Officers in London for payment of the Duties demanded conformable to the conditions of his Bond.


22 February 1815           The James and Betsey Cutter of Portsmouth was Seized the 4th Inst. in entering Cowes Harbour by the Collector – For being fitted with a Running Bowsprit and having no License on board as required by 27th Geo. 3rd Ch 32. Beavis the owner who was absent from the Vessel at the time of Seizure produced to us 2 Days after a Regular License granted at Portsmouth 24th November 1814 – but as the Act of Forfeiture had taken place for a License not being on board we refused restoration without your Honors Orders. The Parties are suspicious as Fraudulent Traders but we have no proof of their having committed any Illegal Transactions.


6 March 1815                In obedience to your command of the 4th Inst. on you Order of 30th December last, we report that we have been making every research possible from receipt of the said letter for a suitable place to erect a Watch House at the Eastern Extremity of the Isle of Wight for the Sitter of the St Hellens Preventive Boat and his Crew but without effect.

A very desirable spot presented itself on the Shore at the Entrance of the Harbour on the Bembridge side and we lost no time in applying to Captain Hammond (the son of Sir Andrew) who is Lord of the Manor, for space sufficient to erect a Watch House on, but from a conceived notion that such Building would be an annoyance – Captain Hammond has objected to the accommodation. It is, however, possible that your Honors Assurance to Captain Hammond that the Watch House would be so placed on the waste land at the immediate entrance to the Harbour as to be perfectly unobjectionable in appearance and that you will take care to insure the decent Deportment and behaviour of the Sitter and Crew – He may relent in his objection, in which case the building wanted may be immediately proceeded on.

There is no condemned vessel at this Port, and if there were, we would by no means recommend her for such appropriation as we understand those already fitted up and used for the Accommodation of the Preventive Boat by no means answers the purpose.


7 March 1815                William Kates a Tide Waiter on the Establishment of the Customs at this Port Died this morning.


9 March 1815                The Boat in question was a French Privateer captured by the Stork Cutter & when sold to Mr Trattle I told him the circumstances of the Condemnation in the High Court of the Admiralty entitled him to the Privileges of a British Boat or Vessel. As she is built with plank Half an Inch thick & Timbers One Inch & one quarter Square and is in Length between 30 and 40 Feet. I humbly submit she may have your Honors approbation to be Licensed agreeable to Section 52 Geo 3rd Ch141.


14 March 1815               A new Galley having been in pursuance of your Honors Order of the 10th December been provided for the Preventive Water Guard at St Helens. We transmit inclosed the Tradesmans Bill for the same amounting to £12 – 0 – 0 which not exceeding the Estimate transmitted, and the Inspecting Commander having certified, the Boat is finished in a proper manner and fit for Service, is humbly submitted for payment.


15 March 1815               A Preventive Boat being fixed at St Helens under the Direction of Mr Richard Jeatt the Sitter – we submit that Joseph Jolliffe the Commissioned Boatman whose Services can be of no further Utility at that place, may be directed to remove to Cowes where he can usefully be employed on board Ships as a Tidesman on their arrival from Foreign Parts, a Duty of Officers much wanted by us.

George Granger the other Boatman at Saint Helens, and who acts as Coast Waiter, we submit should continue in his present situation, as during the absence of the Preventive Boat, he can be useful in guarding the Harbour and watching the motions of certain Illicit Traders, as well as executing the Coast duty.          


23 March 1815               As Captain Hammond’s objection to your request seems founded on the possibility of his building a house on the shore at Bembridge for his own residence. May it not be advisable for the Secretary further to explain to him that the materials of the contemplated Watch House shall consist of Wooden Frame Work and in the event of him building a house for his own occupation, your Honors will engage, on receiving six Months notice of Captain Hammonds intention, to cause the Watch House to be removed.


29 March 1815               Mr James Major, Sitter of Preventive Boat No.19 at Atherfield, has this day represented to us that William Vaughan, one of his Boatman, married the daughter of John Wheeler, a professed and notorious Smugler residing at Atherfield, and that notwithstanding remonstrations on the propriety of such a connection, Vaughan still continues to associate and live in the House of his Father-in-Law.

As one of our motives in first proposing the Establishment of a Preventive Boat at Atherfield, was to watch the movements of Wheeler, who for 20 Years past, has carried on a successful Contraband Trade at Atherfield. It will be obvious if Vaughan is suffered to serve in Boat No.19 all your Honors measures to suppress Smugling will be mitigated.

We therefore submit that he immediately be ordered from the Isle of Wight to some Distant Stationed Boat that the Service may be carried on with secrecy and active union amongst the Boats Crew without which, no success can be looked to.


30 March 1815               In Obedience to your Order of 30th December 1814 – to report specially on the state of Mr Richard Chivertons health who has been suspended from the Coast Duty at Ryde nearly two Years on account of insanity, we have to represent to your Honors that we learn from different sources of information that it is now upwards of Six Months that his mind has been quiet and free from Paroxysm.

In receiving, however, the Effects of his Affliction, whereby Gentlemen & others who have had to pass from Ryde to Portsmouth – or Vice Versa – were much inconvenienced and alarmed, the Disclosures made privately for the Good of the Service – the menace of destruction held against ourselves for having suspended him from Office in pursuit of your Honors Order, coupled with the probability of his again being affected in the Hot Season are circumstances that – imperiously demand a frank confession from us that we consider Richard Chiverton an Improper person to be appointed again to Coast Duty at Ryde. It is nevertheless due to him from us to acknowledge to your Honors that prior to his illness he always did his Duty with propriety and firmness and as we have reason to believe his sanity was principally occasioned by a fall from his Horse, and a violent kick in the head from the animal when conveying a Seizure of Spirit he had made from Ryde to Cowes, we beg earnestly to recommend his case to your Honors humane consideration.

Ryde is well known to some members of the Honorable Board and is becoming a place of some consequence in Population and Trade and it is only by placing and efficient active Coast Officer there that questionable practices and irregularities in the shipping and landing of goods can be checked and prevented.

Inclosed Letter from William Peddler, Surgeon at Ryde, 29 March 1815         In reply to your letter respecting the Health of Richard Chiverton, I can only say I believe he has been quite free from Insanity since his last Illness (which I think is about 2 Years since) and at present appears to be fit to resume his Duty, but we all know when a person has had any thing like Insanity they are liable to the return of the malady.


30 March 1815               Thomas Windover having this day been admitted by us as a Tide Waiter of Customs at this Port, we transmit inclosed his Bond in Order to it being registered &c.


9 April 1815                   In pursuing your Command of the 31st Ult. to ascertain what land is available at the Eastern Extremity of the Isle of Wight for the purpose of erecting a Watchouse on Captain Hammond having refused to accommodate your Honors with a site on the shore.

We on Friday made a personal Survey of the Sitters Station and have now satisfaction in acquainting you that our researches were attended with success, we having selected and secured for the Honorable Boards approval a spot of ground equally eligible with the point of Captain H’s land that first attracted out attention. The spot chosen, is at Bembridge connected with the Shore and consists of one Half of ¾ of an acre of pasture of which George Granger your Honors Boatman and Coast Waiter there is Lessee under the Worsley Family on a Lease of three Lives now extant viz.

James Dennett  40

Jane Down        30

John Dennett    40

determinable on the death of all but subject with the consent of the Land in Fee to renewal. George Granger has been prevailed on by us, though with much difficulty, as his wife urged that by abstracting one half of this land, the means of maintaining herself and 5 children in the event of the demise of her Husband viz. by the keep of a cow would be reduced, to let to your Honors, the space described at an Annual rent of ten Pounds and which under the peculiar circumstances of this case and the impossibility of getting any other desirable Land we venture to say is not unreasonable.

The Watch House we recommend to be erected for the Sitter and Crew of the St. Helens Preventive Boat should be in dimensions and construction counter part of that at Atherfield that which there is not a more convenient one in the coast or better calculated for its avowed object.

Messrs Dennett & Farmer, who built that Watch House, having fulfilled their contract with fidelity, we have asked them again for an Estimate and Tender to complete the work of the proposed one at Bembridge, which with the plan we herein inclose for your Honors consideration and directions.


11 April 1815                 James Drayton, John Urry, William Fookes and Robert Gladdiss have been admitted as Tidewaiters. We transmit inclosed their Bonds in order to their being registered as the Law directs.


12 April 1815                 Inclosed is a petition from Mrs Jane Chiverton praying that as her Husband is not yet re-instated in his Office as Coastwaiter at Ryde she may under your Honors Order be permitted to receive his Salary of £20 due for the last Quarter.


12 April 1815                 On your Order of the 10th Inst. signifying your Honors had not received an Account of Ages and Capabilities for the last year, we beg leave respectfully to report that the said account was transmitted to your Honors in a Box the 20th January last and as advised in our letter of the same date.              


12 April 1815                 As directed by your Order of the 10th Inst. We report that no such practice prevails at this Port in keeping Tidewaiters waiting to be boarded on Vessels arrived from Foreign Parts. The Rule which obtains with our Tidesurveyor is to board each Tidewaiter in his regular turn and if no one is at hand near the Watch House on arrival a Boatman from the Tidesurveyor’s Boat is dispatched to the Officers habitation to call him out to be placed on Duty.

The number of Vessels arrived at this Port from Foreign Parts between 5 January 1814 and 5 January 1815 is one hundred and fifty four.

And we further report that no Tidewaiter or Boatman while acting as Coalmeter is ever on Day Pay in addition to the allowance per Chaldron for Coal Meterage.


19 April 1815                 As directed by your Order of the 15th Inst. on the subject of the Watch House at Bembridge. We respectfully report that without a Chamber floor the Sitter and his family cannot be accommodated.

The difference in price in Tiling the Roof will be £8 more than Thatch Work, the latter of which when well put on will last 20 Years.

The cost of a Chamber Floor with Stair case Window will be about £22 and if not allowed the Building will be totally unfit for the purpose it is intended for.

We flatter ourselves that the Watch House at Atherfield occupied by the Sitter, Mr Major, which is the exact model of the existing one of the projected one at Bembridge is the most complete in point of Convenience on the Coast. The proof of which if necessary we humbly submit a reference to the Inspector, Captain Blake.


29 April 1815                 Mr Richard Comben was this day sworn into his office as Mate of the Stork Cutter in pursuance of you Honors Order of the 27th Inst. and inclosed we transmit his Bond with two proposed Sureties in order to its being registered as the Law directs.


19 May 1815                 In return to your Order of Enquiry of the 16th Inst. whether a Commissioned Tidewaiter or Boatman could not be spared to act as Coast Waiter at Ryde – in lieu of Robert Miller, Glutman.

We respectfully report that the only competent Officer of such description at this Port – to perform the Duty of Coast Waiter is James Sammes – who is already employed in such a capacity at Newport in place of Mr Snudden, acting temporarily as a Riding Officer at Shanklin pursuant to your Honors Order of the 11th Feb. last and that also approves our proposition to fix Robert Miller at Ryde

Robert Miller is a Commissioned Coal Meter – as well as a Glutman, is an active young Man, writes a good hand and executes the Coastwaiters Office at Ryde much to our satisfaction.


25 May 1815                 Having in obedience to your Honors Order of 9th May to charge William Vaughan, a Boatman in the Atherfield Preventive Boat No. 19 of which Mr James Major is the Sitter with the following Offences viz:

1st Associating with and Lodging in the House of John Wheeler a Notorious Smuggler.

2nd Getting Drunk on the 8th February last, as to be scarcely able to pull his oar &c.

3rd Remaining on board the Ann Smuggling Vessel off Atherfield in which John Wheeler is concerned the 2nd November last.

4th Throwing a Ballast Bag off his shoulder with such force into the Boats bottoms as to nearly sink her.  

We respectfully submit that the first charge is proved by the testimonials of William Manners and James Walker, Joseph Escom, James Jones, William Rubie and Edward Brine.

The second by Manner, Walker, Escom and Jones.

The third by Manner and Walker, and the fourth by Jones.

And that no evidence has come out in the course of examination, or addressed by Himself explaining any part of the said Charges.

To permit a man like Vaughan connected with and residing in a Notorious Smugglers House must we submit to your Honors be productive of the worst possible consequences to the Revenue inasmuch as he has it at all times in his power to impart to Wheeler the movements of the Sitter – and thereby frustrate his Officers for the detection of Smugling Transactions. – His other conduct is also void of every principle of Subordination and Integrity that we do not hesitate to offer our opinion to your Honors that the permitting him to continue as a Boatman at Atherfield would not only be extremely prejudicial to the Revenue but bring the whole Service at the Station into derision.

Vaughan has been a Boatman at Atherfield nearly 5 Years and has not been before charged, but was severely reprimanded by us for neglect of Duty the 24th April 1811.

Mr James Major whose character Vaughan has attempted to impeach has been 19 Years in the Service, always when Deputed Mariner in the Stork Cutter conducted himself with propriety and we have no reason to doubt that since he has held the situation of Sitter at Atherfield, now 2½ years, has shown on every occasion zeal for the Interest of the Revenue.


13 June 1815                 The six oared Boat which the Tidesurveyor has had in use for the last thirteen Years being so decayed as to be unworthy of repair. He humbly craves your Honors by the within application a new one, and which we beg to recommend, may be granted him, with as little delay as possible, as his Duty is much increased by the arrival of Ships from America.

Inclosed is an Estimate from the superior Boat Builder at this Port and who has lately given much satisfaction in the construction of several Boats for the Service.


16 June 1815                 Inclosed we transmit an account of Seizures brought to the King’s Warehouse and we humbly pray your Honors Orders for Prosecution.

In the Vessel James, Captain Williams found 4 Persons all of whom were rejected on board the Prince Man of War as unfit for the Naval Service. Robert Walsh, John Newell and Joseph Morey have therefore been committed to Prison (in default of bail) by John Delgarno Esq., a Justice of the Peace in the Isle of Wight under the Act of 49th of the King. The other Person (named John Austen) proving himself very satisfactorily to be a Passenger on the Vessel, was liberated by the Magistrate,


16 June 1815                 Mr Richard Cass who at his admission into Office as Warehouse Keeper at this Port gave security for £300 only has this day in pursuance to your Honors Order of the 1st Inst. renewed in the larger amount of £500 jointly with Mr Thomas Ingles and Mr Benjamin Barter, both of Cowes, Grocers, for which of them we consider each of them of sufficient ability to answer and inclosed we submit the Bond in order to it being registered as the Law directs.


16 June 1815                 Richard Abrahams and James Harrison having been admitted Glut Tide Waiters of Customs at this Port, we inclosed transmit their respective Bonds to be registered as the Law directs.


21 June 1815                 Having proceeded to Weymouth in pursuance of your Honors Order of 4 April and Investigated certain Charges against the Tide Surveyor and Water Guard, I beg leave to lay before you an Account of Expenses amounting to £51 – 10 – 10 for which I respectfully your Honors Order for payment.


27 June 1815                 Having in Obedience to your Order charged Mr James Major the Sitter of the Atherfield Preventive Boat No. 19 with the following Misconduct:

First – Frequenting at various times Public Houses on the Coast wasting his time therein by drinking.

Second – To prevent his neglect of duty being known he caused false entries to be made in his Journal by William Vaughan.

Third – Wrangling in several instances wantonly with his Boatmen and by threats putting them in fear of their lives.

We respectfully submit that the first is not proven, from witnesses viz William Manner, the Commissioned Boatman, Joseph Escom, James Walker and James Ives, Boatmen, deposing that they know nothing of such conduct and one only viz William Rubie, Boatman, supporting the general charge without being able to recollect the particular times when the boat was prevented from being employed by Mr Major spending his time in Public Houses.

That the second is not proved, such charge resting on the accusation of William Vaughan only.

This the third is just proved by the evidence of William Manner and William Rubie, the former however admitting that he had aggravated Mr Major to the Expression ‘I will ? your through the body’ by first calling him a Liar, in consequence of a dispute that arose between them respecting a Sloop reaching out from Dunnose.

That Mr Major and his people after travelling the coast and watching a whole or part of the Night for the interception of Smugglers should go into a Public House and get some Refreshment cannot strike anyone with surprise, neither can we believe your Honors would wish to prevent the men, as they are at times wet and cold, from getting that nourishment which in moderation nature requires.

If Mr Major had been habitually as attested by Vaughan, Captain Blake, the Inspecting Commander in his surveys must have naturally discovered such propensity in the Sitter and would be duty bound to have reported his behaviour to your Honors. Captain Blake’s silence therefore affords additional in our own minds that the Charges bought against Mr W Major by William Vaughan are frivolous and malicious and founded solely on Vindictive motives to injure him because he represented to us the impropriety of Vaughan living in the house as he now does with John Wheeler, a notorious Smuggler, which could not fail to frustrate all his Endeavours to suppress Smuggling in his District at Atherfield.

Mr James Major was appointed Deputed Mariner of the Storke Cutter on 22nd December 1808, Sitter of the Atherfield Preventive Boat No 19 on 21 November 1812 and never before Charged and he states that as a Mariner altogether he has 19 years in the Service of the Revenue. All of which is respectfully submitted. 


28 June 1815               As directed by your Honors Order of 21st Instant, we report that there is no Seized Boat at this Port fit for the Service of the Tide Surveyor.

We have procured another Estimate for Building the Boat wanted, and as Mr Scriven, the other Builder has refused to Tender at so low a price, we submit Mr John Roberton’s proposal be accepted, he having lately in the construction of Two Boats, one for the Stork Cutter and the other for Mr Richard Jeatt, the Sitter of the of the St Helens, given much satisfaction.

1813 - 1814

1815 - 1816

Customs Cowes Letters Books

© Transcription by Steve Holden, 2008. Original Book held at the National Archives.

6 August 2009